Stage one of Christian preaching
• A proclamation about the action of God in
  the Easter events. (We se this in Paul’s
• With further reflection, the story was
  enlarged to show that God in fact was
  acting, breaking into the world, not just in
  the death/resurrection event but right
  through the ministry of Jesus.
                Stage 2
• Mark’s Gospel shows Jesus being called
  God’s Son from the moment of his
  Baptism. As an adult Jesus appears in the
  wilderness, the Spirit comes upon him and
  he moves into his ministry.
                        Stage 3
• Two gospels, Luke and Matthew, introduce Jesus by
  taking his origins and divine status back before his
  ministry to his conception and birth. It is essential that we
  understand these as theological introductions to the
  ministry of Jesus and not see them as history in our
  sense. Both Luke and Matthew draw on the Old
  Testament to find images and quotations that support
  their theology that Jesus is of God, and from the moment
  of his conception he is filled with the Spirit.
• Stage 3. Matthew & Luke. The infancy stories naming
  Jesus as God’s Son from birth.
                Stage 4
• Finally, John’s gospel proclaims that
  Jesus’ origins go back even prior to his
  conception and birth, back to the very
  beginning, whenever that was John states
  that the Word who was incarnate in Jesus
  was with God from eternity.

•   Pre- existent Word.       Son from birth.     At Baptism           Designated
                                                                       Son in
•   John -----------------   Matt & Luke   -----------Mark ------------Paul
                                                                          Rom 1:4
•   90-100 CE                 80-90 CE.              65-70 CE.        50-65 CE.

•   This schema places the infancy narrative within the developing Christology of the
    early Christian communities.
     Birth of Jesus - historical
• According to Roman and Jewish historians
  there is no doubt that Jesus of Nazareth
  was an historical person.
• We do not have exact information about
  – The date of his birth
  – The year of his birth
              Date of Birth
• 274 Roman Emperor Aurelian has a
  temple dedicated to Sol Invictus on the
  supposed day of the winter solstice in the
  Northern Hemisphere and day of rebirth of
  the Sun

• 313 Emperor Constantine decreed
  Christianity a legitimate Religion in the
  Roman Empire (Edict of Toleration).
              Date of Birth
Constantine transferred many pagan
 customs, celebrations, buildings into

• In AD 354, Philocalus wrote a Christian
  martyrology that dates the nativity of Jesus
  Christ on December 25, and cites an
  earlier work as backup.
             Luke’s Clues
• Shepherds were in the fields at night.

• Time of year – after the harvest
•               - before Winter
• Therefore late Autumn
• No space (topos) in the katalyma (where
  one lays down) for the night.
• First century homes had
             Year of Birth
• “In those days an edict was issued by
  Caesar Augustus ordering the whole world
  to be registered. This took place whiloe
  Quirinius was governor of Syria”
• Augustus was Emperor from 29 BCE – 14
• Publius Sulpicius Quirinius ruled in Syria
  6-7 CE
• It seems Luke recalls Jesus’ birth during
  the time of Herod in agreement with
  Matthew, but has mistakenly linked this to
  the later event when Judea was taken
  over by direct control by Rome in 6 CE.

• Year of birth therefore before 4 CE when
  Herod died.
• “In the days of Herod” (Luke 1:5)
• ie. Between the years 37 BCE and 4 BCE
  when Herod died.
    Matthew and Luke in Common
•   Jesus’ birth in the reign of Herod
•   Mary is a virgin, engaged to Joseph;
•   they have not come to live together
•   Joseph is of the house of David
•   An angel announces the birth
•   He is conceived by power of the Holy
    Matthew and Luke in Common
• Joseph is not involved in the conception
• The name ‘Jesus’ is given prior to his birth
• An angel identifies him as ‘savior’
• Jesus is born after Mary & Joseph come
• Jesus is born in Bethlehem
• Jesus settles with Mary & Joseph in
  Nazareth, Galilee
• MATTHEW                        •    LUKE
• Genealogy                      •    “Historical” introduction
• Magi with gifts                •   Two annunciations
• A star in the East, Emphasis   •   Two births
  on Joseph and his dreams       •   Emphasis on Mary
• Events happen to fulfil the    •   The angel Gabriel Prophets
  scriptures                         Anna, Simeon
• A wicked king Herod            •   Temple
• Slaying of baby boys           •   Jesus with the elders
• A tone of threat               •   A tone of joy
• Egypt                          •   Census
• - midrashic style of Jewish    •   - apocalyptic style of Daniel -
  Rabbi                              Luke’s interest in History
        A common tradition.

• While the theological reflection has led to
  different images and emphases, a common core
  tradition lies underneath this theological
• The historical time of Jesus’ birth.
• The miraculous nature of the birth.
• Davidic descendant.
• Angelic announcement.
• Birthplace is Bethlehem
• Lives in Nazareth
• Parents’ names.
    A theological introduction
• to the identity and mission of Jesus.
• There are many characters Zechariah,
  Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, Shepherds,
  Angels, Simeon, Anna.
• cast against a background of world powers
  - Caesar Augustus, Quirinius, and Herod.
• This birth is no myth. It is grounded in
  history and prepared for within the long
  history of Israel.
                    Structure of Luke
1: 5-25 Annunciation John             • 26-38 Annunciation Jesus

            39-56 MEETING OF THE      MOTHERS
                  OT RECOGNISES       THE NEW.

57-80 Birth & circumcision John       2:1 –21 Birth & circumcision Jesus

                   PRESENTATION       IN THE TEMPLE
                  O.T RECOGNISES      THE NEW

                  2:41-52 Bridge to   Public ministry:
                 Jesus imbibing and   being nurtured by
                        the wisdom    of Israel.
      The Promises are fulfilled
• The story of John introduces the story of Jesus.
• The narrative highlights John’s special role but an even
  greater role is given to Jesus.
• This may have its history in the confusion or even rivalry
  between disciples of John and Jesus. Who was the more
• After each main event - announcement and birth - there
  is a scene where characters representative of Israel’s
  traditions, recognize Jesus is blessed by God.
• Luke’s theology that the time of Israel, the time of O.T.
  promise is finished as now those promises are being
                  Literary Forms
        What type of writing is this called? Is it true?

• Robinson. Murray
  and Kylie are
  pleased to
  announce the
  arrival of Mackinley
  Reece (7 lbs) – our
  first child. Mother
  and baby well.
  Thanks to staff at
  Knox Hospital.
        O.T. Announcement Story Pattern.
• Appearance of an angel (or the Lord)
• Response of fear or awe
• Divine message - person addressed by name
              qualifying phrase describing the person
              person urged not to fear
              woman is to have a child
              child is to have a special name
              meaning of name
              the future accomplishments of the child
• Person objects or raises a problem, or doubt
• A sign of reassurance.
• These elements are not always found in each story or in
  this order but most are found in biblical announcement
     Announcement of Ishma’el
• Gen. 16:7 The angel of the LORD found her by a spring
  of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.
  And he said, “Hagar, maid of Sarai, where have you
  come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am
  fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the LORD
  said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her.”
  The angel of the LORD also said to her, “I will so greatly
  multiply your descendants that they cannot be numbered
  for multitude.” And the angel of the LORD said to her,
  “Behold, you are with child, and shall bear a son; you
  shall call his name lsh’mael; because the LORD has
  given heed to your affliction. He shall be a wild ass of a
  man, his hand against every man and every man’s hand
  against him; and he shall dwell over against all his
    Announcement of Samson
• Judg. 13:3 And the angel of the LORD appeared
  to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are
  barren and have no children; but you shall
  conceive and bear a son. 4 Therefore beware,
  and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat
  nothing unclean, 5 for Io, you shall conceive and
  bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head,
  for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from birth;
  and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the
  hand of the Philistines.” 6 Then the woman
  came and told her husband [Manoah]…
      Theological Introductions
• Note in these stories the theme of the barren wife. The
  apparent childless state emphasizes that this is a special
  birth; the child is born through the power of God and is to
  have a role in God’s plan of salvation.
• Luke draws on a number of O.T. stories in portraying the
  two announcements to Zechariah and Mary. This is a
  literary form rather than history, in order to emphasize
  that both John and Jesus are part of God's plan of
• Both John and Jesus have special ministries as adults,
  and the two announcement stories prepare the reader
  for these ministries. They are theological introductions.
    Hope for the End of oppression
•  Apocalyptic movements, were born out of despair about
  the present world and the course of history leading up to
  it; and yet, there was the hope that the Creator of the
  world would carry out the plan for creation in the history
  of his people.
• Political, economic, social, and religious powerlessness
  under the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans
  gave rise to alienation, and this in turn evoked a hope for
  the reversal of the present order and the reestablishment
  of a paradisical world, or at least a return to the golden
  age of King David.
• An expectation that God’s Kingdom would soon begin
    Luke’s apocalyptic view of history.

• Historical figures – Ceasar, Herod, Quirinius
• The Angel Gabriel is used only in chapter 1 of
  Luke and in the Book of Daniel.
• Gabriel links these two books and so if we want
  to understand what Luke is doing in the Infancy
  Narratives, we need to look back to the book of
  Daniel which was written approximately 150
  years before Luke’s Gospel.
            (Daniel 9:20 – 27).

• While I was speaking and praying the angel
  Gabriel came to me at the time of the evening
• Seventy weeks of years are decreed concerning
  your people and your holy city, to finish the
  transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone
  for iniquity, to bring everlasting righteousness so
  seal both vision and prophet and to anoint a
  most holy place.
          (Daniel 9:20 – 27).
• There shall be seven weeks from the word to
  restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of the
  anointed one, a prince. Then sixty two weeks in
  a troubled time.
• And after 62 weeks an anointed one [christos]
  shall be cut off and shall have nothing; and the
  people of the prince to come shall destroy the
  city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with
  war and desolation and for half a week he shall
  cause sacrifice and offering to cease until the
  decreed end is poured out on the desolator
             Book of Daniel
• The book of Daniel, and its symbols, looks back
  to the time when the Temple was rebuilt after the
  Exile and then to the many years of struggle
  under foreign powers. Daniel offers hope to the
  people experiencing oppression by the Greek
  rulers. Luke finds in this book symbols and
  images that he can use to interpret what has
  happened in his own life-time with the
  destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple by the
       Daniel              Luke
• the restoring and        Herod’s building
  building of Jerusalem,     program restoring the
• the coming of the          Temple.
  anointed one             Jesus called the
                             anointed one Christos).
• the city and its         Destruction of
  sanctuary will be          Jerusalem by Rome
  destroyed                  (70 CE.)
• The book of Daniel provides Luke with a
  way of interpreting Jesus’ death and the
  destruction of Jerusalem.
• The Scriptures of Israel have said that the
  anointed one will be ‘cut off’ and then
  Jerusalem will be destroyed.
• The Jewish and Christian community
  therefore should not be surprised by these
  events, they were spoken of in the O.T.
  The beginning of a new age.
• Luke’s story of Jesus’ birth expresses an
  apocalyptic vision of history - that with the
  birth of Jesus the end of the old era has
  come and the birth of Jesus offers the start
  of a new period in salvation time. When
  Mary and Joseph come to the Temple for
  the purification ritual Simeon announces
  that the O.T. time of waiting is over:
  The beginning of a new age.
• Simeon speaks on behalf of Israel and
• “Now Lord you can dismiss your servant in
  peace, for my eyes have seen your
  salvation, which you have prepared in the
  presence of all people, a light of revelation
  to the Gentiles and the glory of thy people
  Israel” (2:29-32).
                A Comparison of Daniel & Luke

• Dan 9:20-21 While praying Gabriel    • Zechariah is serving as priest in
  came at the time of the evening        the Temple offering the evening
  sacrifice.                             sacrifice.
• 10:12 Your words have been heard     • 1:13 Your prayer has been heard
• 8:16, 9:21 Gabriel                   • 1:19 & 26 Gabriel,
• 7:16 I approached one who stood      • 1:19 I stand in the presence of
  in the presence of God                 God

• 10:11 I have been sent to you        •   1:19 I was sent to speak to you

• 8:17 When he came I was              • 1:12 Zechariah was troubled

• 10:12 Then he said to me, Fear not   • 1:13 The angel said, Fear not
  Daniel                                 Zechariah
            A Comparison of Daniel & Luke

• 10:15 I turned my face to      • 1:20 Behold you will be
  the ground and was               silent and unable to
  dumb.                            speak
• 9:23 You are greatly           • 1:28 Hail highly favoured
  beloved                          one
• 10:11 0 Daniel man
  greatly beloved                • 1:64 And immediately his
• 10:16 Then I opened my           mouth was opened his
  mouth and spoke.                 tongue loosed and he
• 7:28 But I kept all these      • 2:19 But Mary kept all
  things in my mind.(literally     these things pondering
  in my heart - en kardia)         them in her heart (en te
           The Shepherds
• In Matthew wise men from the East hear
  the news
• In Luke it is the shepherds who are the
  first to hear the news.
• Both come to Bethlehem to offer praise,
  then both return.
             Luke’s theology
• Roman age of             • “There is born in the
  Augustus                   city of David a
• Hailed as “saviour of      Saviour who is Christ
  the world”                 and Lord.” (Lk 2:11)
• An altar built in Rome   • “On earth Peace to
  celebrating “Pacis         those favoured by
  Augustae”                  God” (Luke 2:14
• Inscription at Prireme
  about Augustus –
• The birthday of the      • “I announce to you
  god marked the             the good news of a
  beginning of the good      great joy, which will
  news for the world.”       be for the whole
                             people. (Luke 2:10)
               The manger
• Isa 1:3 “The ox knows its owner and the
  donkey knows the manger of its master;
  but Israel has not known me, and my
  people have not understood me.”
In the infancy – Faithful Israel does
  recognise Jesus (Elisabeth, Simeon,
  Shepherds – the poor, lowly, barren).
Later the rulers will fulfill Isaiah’s words.

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